After the big-name signing of Gareth Widdop to Warrington Wolves ahead of the 2020 season, we take a look at five players who have flopped in the Super League era despite carrying a prominent reputation.
Frank Pritchard (Hull FC)
The man they nicknamed ‘The Tank’ came to Hull FC with a fearsome reputation from Canterbury Bulldogs ahead of the 2016, and was one of the first public marquee players.
In 26 appearances, Pritchard showed glimmers of a man who can tumble over anyone. He just didn’t do it consistently enough. He played a part in their 2016 Challenge Cup win, but they let the former New Zealand and Samoa international join Parramatta Eels at the end of the season, where he played only 8 times before hanging up his boots.
Todd Carney (Catalans Dragons/Salford Red Devils & Hull KR)
Former Australia halfback Todd Carney arrived at Catalans Dragons in 2015 a Dally M Medal winner and two-time Dally M ‘Five-Eight of the Year,’ but never truly made the impact his reputation warranted.
After a lewd act while at Cronulla Sharks in 2014 saw him exiled from the NRL, he headed for France, where he stayed for two seasons and showed glimmers of a man who light up the NRL.
Salford picked him up as a headline act in the new wave of high-profile recruitment under Marwan Koukash, but he never settled at the Red Devils. After attempting to rekindle a career in Australia after the 2017 season, he came back to Super League with Hull KR last season, but offered little on the field and returned back home.
Willie Mason (Hull KR/Catalans Dragons)
After Michael Dobson was de-registered in 2011, Hull KR turned to Australia international prop Willie Mason, the man renowned for his no-nonsence approach on the field.
The former Canterbury Bulldogs and Sydney Roosters had previously shown his tough attitude on the field after a run in with Stuart Fielden and Jamie Peacock while playing against Great Britain, the but Robins never saw the benefit of his power in the forward pack.
He headed home after just six months, after failing to gain a Tongan passport, before he resurfaced in 2016 with Catalans Dragons in 2016 after spells with Newcastle and Manly. He never really made an impact again upon his return to Super League, and hung up his boots after a solitary season.
Tyrone Roberts (Warrington Wolves)
When Roberts was announced as a Warrington Wolves player before the start of last season, many had high expectations for the former Gold Coast Titans halfback.
But, despite being a marquee player, he never really made the impact he could have on Super League, despite showing some substance to his game. He returned to Gold Coast to be closer to his young family after just one season with the club, which paved the way for Blake Austin to take as place – as the Wolves added Gareth Widdop to a blockbuster halfback partnership for 2020.
Kevin Locke (Salford Red Devils/Wakefield Trinity)
Locke was another of Salford’s big-name signings after Koukash took over, as he rejected big offers from Scottish rugby union to join the club. That didn’t prove to be a worthwhile decision for the former New Zealand fullback, however, as he only played 13 times for the club across two seasons.
Wakefield Trinity offered him a chance to resurrect his career mid-way through the 2015 season, but off-field problems that included a car accident meant he had little impact or opportunity at the club and was released from his contract.
In June 2016, he signed a deal with Shute Shield Rugby side Southern Districts, dropping down the pyramid in Australia. A chance to try to break the NRL once more with Manly Sea Eagles followed, but he was released during pre-season. Since then, he has only managed to play in the lower leagues in Australia, as he took a drastic fall from grace.